Introduction to Home Distilling

Reader Contribution by Josh Bayne
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There is a buzz in my industry right now over all of this “Moonshiners” stuff. Tickle this, and Tickle that. Jim Tom, Tim, Jeff, and those other boys seem to have awakened a bit of a sleeping giant. Since the initial airing of Moonshiners, the spirits industry has seen a number of changes and one of them has been the revival of illegal home distilling.

The Legality of Home Distilling

Before going any further, please be aware, home distilling without proper licenses, permits, bonds, and local authorization is illegal. There is no way around it. Making the decision to distill spirits illegally carries both threat of fines and imprisonment. Doing so, should not be taken lightly.

However, that hasn’t stopped many people. People all over the world are buying small, “home-sized” stills and distilling up some of their favorite cloned spirits. If you like Jack, Jim, Crown, or Patron, with a little bit of practice and some determination, you too could distill the same spirits, if not distill something better.

I recently heard a story from a friend who wanted to get the free Alcohol Fuel Permit. It allows the holder to distill alcohol (ethanol) for fuel use only. Many hobby distillers use the permit as a little insurance. If a federal agent ever catches you distilling at your home, at least you have the alcohol fuel permit in hopes that it will cover your hind end. He took the application to his local sheriff to ensure he was not violating any local laws. He slid the application across the counter to his sheriff who picked it up, gave it a quick glance, and slid it back across the counter. “Fred, I know you’ve been distilling for over 20 years. I don’t really care, as long as I get a little visit during Christmas time!”

This seems to be the sentiment of many local authorities. If you’re making it for personal consumption, then you’re most likely not going to see any trouble. However, if you are selling it, or serving it to minors, not only are you going to get caught, you’re going to get fined and put in jail for a bit. And to be honest, it serves you right! Don’t take advantage of the relaxed nature of the local authorities. Instead, distill for personal use only and enjoy it.

The Power of Home Distilling

With that said, there will come a day that something catastrophic might happen. The government might collapse or have no way of serving you as a citizen. When that happens, owning and knowing how to use a still will be of huge advantage. Forget the other uses of a still such as fuel, water, and essential oils (we will cover these items in future posts) just being able to produce alcohol for drinking will put you in an immediate position of power.

Barter, trade, and sales of spirits at this time will be a very lucrative opportunity. I know many people talk about “bugging out” away from the world, but I plan on sticking around and starting a distillery! Trust me, people are still going to want to drink their troubles away and I don’t mind capitalizing on that!

But think about just the bartering aspect. Need a barn raised? 5 bottles. Need a new horse? 2 bottles. Need help fixing the plumbing? 1 bottle. Think about the health industry. Using alcohol to numb pain, clean instruments, and wounds. Running a still will no longer be some sort of taboo subject. Instead it will be a necessary event to cover the needs of every aspect of human life. It’s scary to think about but if something crazy does happen, Tickle just might be the guy you need to save your life!

In our next post we will talk about the overall steps of distillation and spirit development.

Photo by eclecticc